Taken for Granted

ESL, embedded processors, and more

DATE 2011 Sumup

Filed under: Uncategorized — March 20, 2011 @ 11:15 am

The big advantage of wifi and the internet is that when you are away from home base, you can be in constant touch.

The big disadvantage of wifi and the internet is that when you are away from home base, you NEED to be in constant touch!

DATE 2011 Coffee Mug

DATE 2011 Coffee Mug

Unfortunately, the number of work related things I needed to do after each day of DATE 2011 ended ate up all the time I wanted to use to write up brief blogs about it.  So I only was able to post a note Tuesday evening about the EDA industry and embedded software tool development – although that did trigger a couple of comments.  This post then is a bit of a summary of a variety of things I saw and heard at DATE 2011.

  1. Attendance:  I did not attend DATE 2010 in Dresden, and do not know any numbers for this year.  However, people I talked to who had been in Dresden last year felt there were definitely more attendees, and some of the sessions this year were downright crowded with people standing and spilling out of the back of the room.  This included the session I co-organised and spoke in on Virtual Manycore Platforms.    In addition, people said there were more exhibitors than last year and at times the exhibit floor seemed quite crowded (having the coffee break in the exhibit area helps, even though there was coffee in the other part of the conference centre where many of the technical sessions were).
  2. Keynotes:  I saw several interesting keynotes.  Professor Steve Furber of U. Manchester talked about his Spinnaker project which is using processors and advanced interconnect to build a neural net of processors to model brain function and to provide an advanced computing platform.  I first heard about this in 2007 and was familiar with most of it, but he showed pictures of the first 2-core prototype from end 2009 and a plot of the next 18 core chip due back from fab in April 2011.   Of course, when he has built a multi-million processor system,  if this were a science fiction movie it would become self-aware and try to take over the world, while exterminating humanity! Other keynotes by Philippe Magarshack of STMicroelectronics, and later in the week, by Carmelo Papa of STMicroelectronics, talked about many of the advanced and specialised technologies ST has created for low energy consumption ICs, 3D, advanced RF and mixed-signal technologies, etc.
  3. Drawing on the local design community:   Grenoble being a key city in Europe for microelectronics, with the enormous presence of STMicroelectronics, and other institutions such as Verimag and CEA-Leti, the conference did a pretty good job in drawing in participants in the programme from these and other local places, especially in special sessions.   It would have been good to see even more designers from ST and other companies attending the technical sessions – seeing hundreds of local designers with one-day passes would have bolstered attendance significantly.
  4. Technical Programme:  I heard some people say that they thought some sessions they attended had poor papers (they were experts on the subject).   With usually eight sessions on at once, it was both impossible to attend more than a thin slice of the programme and possible to jump about a bit.   There were some unfortunate overlaps – while talking in one session, there were some interesting-sounding talks and panels going on in others.  I found a number of interesting talks including a session on Baseband (3.7) and one on smart devices for the cloud (5.1).   Someone else I talked to made the comment that in a maturing field, there might not be enough significant advances every year for a major conference.   I think this stresses the need for DATE and other conferences like DAC to keep increasing the focus on design as well as design technology, because across the spectrum of electronics, there are always major advances in design every year in some domains at least.
  5. The PhD Forum:   Monday evening, after registration and an initial reception, there was a crowded and well-organised PhD forum run by Peter Marwedel.    This was well-done, with posters from 40 different PhD projects on display (and some very good food on offer as well).  I was able to chat to some students about their research – lots of creativity on display.
  6. The Coffee Mug:  Every year for as long as I can recall, DATE has offered a coffee mug with the conference name and year on it in exchange for filling out a survey/suggestion form.  Every year that I have been at DATE I have earned my coffee mug.  As I write this I am enjoying coffee in my 2002 mug.  Seems like a fair exchange!  See above for picture


  1. Y. Vanderperren:

    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for your posts about DATE and for keeping your blog alive. Although in the last years I took some distance with EDA and chip design, I still keep myself informed with the evolution of the field, and your blog is a very interesting resource.

    I was wondering if you have more information about the geographical origin of the submitted and accepted papers. In particular, it would be interesting to know whether there is a continuous increase of papers submitted from Asian countries (including Australia, which belongs to the economic sphere of influence of China), and what is their overall quality.

    From the perspective of intellectual property rights, which is the field where I am currently active, I do see that the situation is moving fast. China has reformed in 2009 its IP law and brought it closer to the level of the US, the Japanese and the European legal systems. The number of patent applications submitted at the Chinese patent office is exploding, by virtue of government stimuli that push towards innovation and IP protection. I have read somewhere that these stimuli are encouraging patent applications rather than scientific publications. I am wondering what is your viewpoint on this matter.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Grant Martin:

    Yves, thanks for your comment and I am glad you still find my occasional postings useful. At the keynote opening session of DATE they presented data about the geographical origins of papers but I did not take note of the detailed numbers. There seemed to be a good submission from Asia and I seem to recall some were from Australia, but no comparative numbers from previous years. I certainly see more design activity happening in China and growing numbers of designers working on more and more sophisticated products. I would expect this trend to continue. Maybe as a result we will see overall world design activity increase – i.e. not as much substitution for design in other places as an increase in the number of designs being done.


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